Monday, May 25, 2015

Decoration Day

 Not a lot of funny here.  Shouldn't be.  Sorry.  
Well, except below.
And that picture at the end is kinda funny, too.
Hey, I can't help myself.


    
NOTE:  Much of today's post isn't the result of actual, scholarly research.  Rather, it is what I remember from my education in the Connecticut public school system.  Although seven years were spent in Catholic school.  Figured I should mention that. 

"You're goddamn right you should, Mr. Penwasser.
Oops, I probably shouldn't say that.  Fuck."
   **********


Memorial Day is a day set aside on the last Monday in May to honor those who died while serving in the armed forces of the United States.  Even though well-meaning people often confuse it with Veterans Day in November (which honors all who ever served in the military), that's at least better than those who think it's nothing more than the unofficial beginning of the summer and backyard barbecue season.

NOTE:  Honestly, which it is.
    
  Originally called Decoration Day, this recognition of those who gave their lives in the American Civil War was officially proclaimed on May 5th, 1868, by Union General John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic.  Planned for May 30th, it drew former foes together to plant flowers and otherwise spruce up graves of war dead from North and South alike at Arlington National Cemetery.

    To be sure, women in the South were also “decorating” gravesites of their dead from the “Great Cause.”  In fact, some sources state that those practices even predated the end of the nation’s bloodiest conflict.  What’s more, some states in Dixie even had their own Decoration Days, mostly in May. 

    The “Decoration” name stuck until it officially changed to “Memorial” Day in 1967.  No matter what it was called, though, Americans throughout the nation took time out to honor those who had fallen.

    To be sure, the wars in which their country fought (both declared and, since 1941, undeclared) may not be held in the highest regard by a great many Americans.  Some of their arguments I agree with, some I do not. 

    But, those who fought and died in them?  Those we hold in reverent high regard.  Whether draftee or volunteer, they paid the ultimate sacrifice.  And even though some may view their sacrifice in vain, we cannot discount the price they paid.

     I believe heroes like this, men and women all through American history, gave their countrymen the luxury of being able to go to the beach, incinerate (in the case of my father) hot dogs on the backyard grill, and (sadly) not have a frikkin’ clue what the day is all about.

     I salute those people on this Memorial Day.

Except this guy.
This guy makes me wish it was winter.

Dedicated to my friends, CDR Bill Donovan and AW1 (NAC/AW) Joe Pycior, killed at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001


30 comments:

  1. You're right, most don't have a clue. Freedom isn't free and many gave their lives for it.
    Very sorry you lost friends on 9/11.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was the most sobering event of my military career. From 2001 until I retired a few years later, EVERYthing we did was colored by the events of that day. And the world continues to be affected by 9/11.

      Delete
  2. I'm sorry to hear you lost close friends during 9/11. I didn't know Memorial Day was originally set up to honour the dead from the civil war, which would explain why we have nothing like it this time of year. We join you in remembrance in November with our own Memorial Sunday. Until then I will join you in your mourning. You can disagree about the wars all you want, and you should, but the fact remains people died and those people should be remembered and honoured.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I originally wrote this, I wrote up a "scoreboard" about American wars. But, I didn't want the post to be overly long. Maybe another time... While many people call WWII a "good" war, I don't think there is such a thing. I think there are "necessary" wars (vast majority are not). WWII, IMO, was a "necessary" war. But, you're right. No matter how you feel about this war or the next, take it out on the politicians. Not on those who fight them.

      Delete
  3. I was kind of curious to see that most English speaking countries have Victoria Day the week before. I always wondered if the close dates are a coincidence or not. I know most of the western world have veterans/remembrance day on the same date.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's just a coincidence. That November 11th thing? No, not a coincidence.

      Delete
  4. Many have no clue indeed, too busy being that last guy or being blinded by him? lol they are all heroes indeed

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't begrudge the clueless to have their barbecue and fun. That they can is what matters. Even if they ARE clueless.

      Delete
  5. I have read, in other blogs, how it started and glad it has been maintained. Many people, now, have no idea what the reason is except for bar-b-q and those stupid home fireworks that scare by doggie. I do not condone the people who talk negatively about the soldiers who fought in wars that were not popular. One is entitled to their belief but don't treat the soldiers in any negative tone. I am glad you honoured your friends here who died at the pentagon because they are a part of this day as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to get all flustered at people who blindly say "Happy" Memorial Day without realizing what the day is all about. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realize that the sacrifices of those who died for our country have ensured we can HAVE the freedom of a "happy" Memorial Day. And freedom to be a knucklehead.

      Delete
  6. I have much love and respect for you, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awwwwww....there you go with the making me blush again.
      Back atcha.
      Now THAT isn't too creepy, is it?

      Delete
  7. This was a great post Al! Except for the guy with the speedo and gold cross. He needs to disappear from your photo collection or at least buried in a Jersey land fill.Gross! When I first the Vietnam Wall in DC (pre 9/11) I was speechless over the numbers that were killed and I knew this was just one war! We lost so many over the decades and regardless of our views of war, we cannot forget we would not be sitting here, drinking beer and using the internet to write whatever the hell we want to. I'm so grateful to those who gave their lives for us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Regardless of our views of war." Exactly. Like I told Mark above, I had planned to "score" all of our wars on the basis of which ones were necessary or not. You may be surprised that I'm a bit jaded by the use of arms (or legs-good grief, I can't help myself). But you're absolutely right. Those who fought and died deserve our respect.

      Delete
  8. I'm sorry to read about your friends' passing, I couldn't imagine that sense of loss.

    I'm a strong believer in the notion that nobody likes or supports war, but that sure doesn't mean we can't support our troops. Those people put their lives on the line to defend their nation's interests and to be honest, the fact that they do it regardless of what their country's political interests actually are probably makes it even more admirable.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Al,

    Such a sad, sobering dedication to your friend's loss of life on the day the entire world changed forever.

    Respect and admiration for all those brave souls who fought for our freedom.

    Gary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. September 11.
      Don't even need to identify which year.
      We know.

      Delete
  10. Is the nun is a reminder of the kind of character who would be in charge of America without the military to defend your way of life? The bare-chested guy must be a symbol of the liberty that's being defended.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those nuns can be some tough muthas, from my recollections.

      Delete
  11. At Kiddo's graduation Sunday the principal had all the veterans stand up since it was the day before Memorial Day. I was a little confused because I thought it was for fallen soldiers and these people are obviously still alive. But, it was still a nice gesture.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've noticed a lot of "don't thank me for my service because I'm still alive." I get it. I really do. But, it strikes me as kind of rude. I appreciate the sentiment like you saw at Kiddo's graduation. A nice gesture is, after all, a nice gesture.

      Delete
  12. heartfelt tribute. Indeed it's good to contemplate the sacrifice and then in honor of the freedom we have - leap into a pool, burn some meat, and imbibe a tad.
    (sounds like nuns should be saluted too on a special day for dealing with Mr. Al Penwasser - but that's another story).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sure don't have a problem with enjoying myself after I pay my respects!

      Delete
  13. They should change the name to Dead Veteran's Day to make it more clear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know why, but that made me laugh. I have a taste for the absurd, I suppose.

      Delete
  14. I'm also sorry that you lost your friends during 9/11. Thanks for all of your years of service, and for keeping us safe, Al.

    Julie

    ReplyDelete